Have you met someone who “eats nothing” and still can’t lose weight?
This is one of the great conundrums of the weight loss world. Quite regularly, I will meet people who insist that they really don’t eat very much and yet are unable to shift the pounds.
Is this even possible?
In my experience, people fit into 4 groups:
Some kind of medical problem that means a very slow metabolism (This is very rare.)
People who think they eat very little, but when you examine their food diary over a longer period of time, you realise that actually they do eat more than they thought they did.
(this is the vast majority of people)
Some people have a food diary that looks like they are eating very little. But over a month or so, with their food diary staying the same, they start losing weight.
The inference here is that they cut back their intake at the same time as keeping an accurate food diary, and so they started losing weight. And this means that their previous assertion that they ate very little and were not losing weight was inaccurate.
4. The rest
I have very occasionally seen people who have shown me food diaries that showed that they were eating very little and yet they were not losing weight.
But there are four caveats here:
1. I have never seen more than a couple of weeks of food diary of people like this. It is definitely possible to eat very little for 2 weeks and not lose weight. It is much harder to eat very little for 2 months and not lose weight. If they had continued for longer, perhaps they would have actually been shown to be in group 3.
2. Evidence shows that most food diaries are not accurate. For most people what they eat and what they write down might vary by 10-30%. But of course for others it might be much more than that.
3. Remember, simply the act of keeping a food diary makes people eat less. Was the couple of weeks of food diary that I saw truly representative of their overall food intake? (as with group 3)
4. Some clients seem to be eating very little most of the time, but it is the “unusual” occurrences that tend to be the problem. The three holidays abroad, where they eat much more than usual, are enough to cancel out all the good work at home. Just think, if you gain 1 pound every time you go away, and you go away three times a year, that’s 3 pounds a year more you will be carrying (and an extra stone after 5 years). These people can easily fool themselves into thinking “I am so careful about what I eat” and yet there is a clear reason for why they are gaining weight.
So what’s the take-home message from this?
There is no substitute for:
1. Keeping track of exactly what you eat (a food diary)
2. Objective analysis of your eating patterns by someone qualified to do so.
And, unless you monitor what’s happening over a longer period of time, it’s impossible to know if someone really is eating very little and not losing weight.
The fact is, most people are not in a good position to comment on their own food intake. When they say that they eat nothing, unless it’s backed up by accurate records of what they eat, combined with objective examination of those records, then you really have to take it with a pinch of salt.
Dr. Khandee Ahnaimugan (Dr. K) is a medical doctor, weight loss expert and author of the best-selling book, “Slim and Healthy without Dieting”. He provides individual consulting programmes for people wanting to lose weight without dieting. Try his 7 Day “How to Lose Weight without Dieting” Email Course for FREE at www.doctorkweightloss.com